NBA Basketball

Knicks' defense shuts down Nets

(TSX / STATS) -- NEW YORK -- So far, so good for the New York Knicks' new defensive coordinator, Kurt Rambis.

The Knicks responded with their best defensive effort this season in Rambis' first game in charge of that unit, getting a 110-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

Rambis was given control of the defense on Tuesday by head coach Jeff Hornacek. A day later, the much maligned Knicks defense held an opponent under 100 points for the first time this season. New York entered the game with the league's worst defensive rating, which is based on points allowed per 100 possessions, while allowing an average of 109.8 points per game, putting them at 27th.

New York (3-4) held Brooklyn (3-5) to 41.3 percent shooting from the floor.

The Knicks' aggressive second-half effort against the Nets, who were playing their second game in as many nights, sealed the win. In the second half, New York limited Brooklyn to 28 percent shooting while outscoring the Nets 60-41.

As part of the stellar defensive effort, New York drew three charges on the night. The Knicks had recorded four coming in. New York forced 18 turnovers and proved especially adept at defending the pick-and-roll, which was a team shortcoming.

"I think (our players) got a little taste of it in the second quarter when they were putting pressure on guys," Hornacek said of the stout defensive effort. "I told them you just have to do that in the second half to see what putting pressure and playing defense can do you for your team."

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis matched his career high with four 3-pointers on the way to scoring 21 points. It is the first time in his two-year career that he scored at least 20 points in three straight games. Carmelo Anthony topped the Knicks with 22 points.

Brandon Jennings became the first Knicks player to register at least 10 assists off the bench since 2012. The backup point guard dished out 11 assists in 23 minutes.

Rookie center Willy Hernangomez scored a season-best 14 points, and Derrick Rose also had 14 to help the Knicks take the first of four meetings with their city rivals.

Justin Hamilton and Brook Lopez scored 21 points apiece for Brooklyn.

The Nets were short-handed in the backcourt with starting point guard Jeremy Lin hobbled by a hamstring injury and rookie Isaiah Whitehead diagnosed with a concussion. Brooklyn signed guard Yogi Ferrell from its D-League team. He played 14 points, scoring five points with three turnovers.

The Knicks sealed it by opening the fourth quarter with a 20-7 run to extend their lead to 92-78 with 6:58 to play. Porzingis drilled two 3-pointers and a three-point play in the sequence, scoring nine points in just two minutes.

"Give (New York) credit," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "Carmelo got going, and their bench did a good job and really got into us. But give credit to their defense and their energy.

"We stopped moving the ball in the second, so our offense was stagnant."

After a sluggish first half, Antony got hot in the third quarter. He scored 12 consecutive points to give the Knicks a 70-69 lead, New York's first advantage since early in the game. He scored 14 of the Knicks' 22 third-quarter points.

"When you get that momentum from a guy who is red hot, the other guys can feel around and get to that open spot and get ready for an offensive rebound," Hornacek said. "It was Melo making the shots, but it was also our defense not giving up transition shots."

Jennings helped facilitate for the Knicks with six assists in the quarter.

An 8-0 Brooklyn run advanced its lead to 67-58 with 5:11 to play in the third after the Knicks moved to within one point.

The Knicks whittled a 49-39 Nets lead down to 55-50 at the half on the strength of two 3-pointers from Anthony and a trey and dunk from Porzingis. Anthony was 3-for-11 from the floor in the first half.

Lopez and Hamilton scored 15 points apiece in the first half.

NOTES: Nets G Sean Kilpatrick made his first career start in his 43rd game, and he finished with seven points and five assists. ... The Nets waived G Greivis Vasquez, who appeared in three games this season, averaging 2.3 points and 1.7 assists in 12.9 minutes per game while battling through an ankle injury. "Greivis did everything we asked of him and more to try to get back on the court at full strength," Nets GM Sean Marks said. "The passion, grit and perseverance he has shown since he joined the team have been remarkable." ... The Knicks assigned G Ron Baker and F Marshall Plumlee to Westchester of the D-League. ... Brooklyn began a five-game road trip on Wednesday. The Nets play at Phoenix on Saturday. Brooklyn is 0-3 on the road. ... The Knicks play the Celtics in Boston on Friday.

Updated November 9, 2016

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